Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trial of Guantanamo detainee tests US legal system

NEW YORK (AP) — Ahmed Ghailani already was a terrorism suspect with an unusual resume — alleged aide to Osama bin Laden, suspected bomb maker, former prisoner of war.

Now he's the first Guantanamo detainee headed for trial in the United States.

His military lawyers, frustrated by the failings of tribunals, said Tuesday that the government's decision to bring him to a Manhattan federal court to face charges in a deadly strike against U.S. embassies was a victory in itself.

"The rule of law is established here," said Air Force Maj. Richard Reiter. "We're not dealing with the due process issues that exist in Guantanamo. ... A fair prosecution that protects his rights is all we could ask for."

In theory, Ghailani will now have broader access to the evidence against him and more avenues to challenge it by emphasizing the circumstances of his capture, detention and treatment over the years. He'll also have regular access to his lawyers as he awaits trial in a jail that holds disgraced financier Bernard Madoff and the captured Somali pirate.

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